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The Oratory Square

Belpech, a village to discover 
From yesteryears to nowadays, what a history…

This triangular square is one of Belpech's first "suburb" and was originally used as a religious site with an oratory in the middle. A fully-painted stone cross, dating from the XVIth century, was protected by a cupola. Nicknamed the "coucouroutjo"[1] by the locals, this cupola was taken down at the beginning of the XIXth century.

The cross was relocated several times, and stood for a while at the end of the newly-enlarged bridge.

It was noticed by Violet-le-Duc and was restored in 1900 by the sculptor Berty. In order to protect it, the cross was moved again in 1978 and placed inside the church.

Nowadays, in front of you, you can see a Cross of the Passion of Jesus on a triangular stepped pedestal. The cross is inscribed with "INRI" and bears a lance, a cloth-holder and, half-way up the mast, two candle-holding arms. It is adorned with three metal immortelle flowers (also known as everlasting). This grade II-listed cross dates from the late XVth century and may have been crafted by the same smiths who forged the grille of the Holy Sepulchre chapel.

As time went by, the square became a commercial and craft hub. We know that in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries the square held a hostel (the "Logis Sainte Marie"), a woad mill and a lavoir (wash-house)… Several crafts followed: smith, leatherworker… In 1855, it became a cattle market and the original cross was moved.

[1] Probably an occitan term referring to the song of the pigeon and dove.

Thanks to L. and T. Guillosson

for translation

Belpech - The 2015 Remembrance ceremony
The 2015 Remembrance ceremony

The war memorial

The War Memorial was funded by public subscription and public funds from the burgh treasury between 1917 and 1921. Sculpted by the Albert David statuary-makers, the white stone soldier stands on a granite pedestal. Plates bearing the names of the fallen are affixed with rivets stamped with the Belpech seal. It was inaugurated on May the 6th 1923 by Maurice Marty in the presence of the late soldiers' families.

The pedestal is surrounded by a square wrought-iron grille. A 300 mm shell is set at each corner. On the floor of each side, a mosaic displays the names of WWI battles: Yser, Marne, Somme and Verdun.

For the centenary of the Great War, an exceptional remembrance ceremony was organised by the History Society of Belpech and Garnaguès. On November 11th, Remembrance Day, with songs, readings, lights, bombing sounds and fire… we felt the horror of fights, the massacre of Verdun, the courage of the brave who, each day, defied their anguish and fear of dying. This ceremony will remain in hearts and memories for years to come.


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